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The Diocese of Edmonton’s Indigenous Birth Support Worker program is part of the Indigenous Ministries Initiative and allows Lori Calkins to provide support to Indigenous families during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, early parenting, and through other rites of passage and times of transition including end of life. Lori is Otipemisiwak (also known as Metis) from the Red River Settlement in Manitoba. She is an experienced cultural birth helper, auntie, and mentor (as well as Diocesan priest). Her traditional knowledge is learned through ongoing relationships with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Kohkums (grandmothers) and other aunties/birth workers. Her work responds to the need for intergenerational healing of Indigenous families from the trauma and disruptions experienced through the colonial experience, including Indian Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop and the foster care system. This healing work includes breaking generational cycles' reawakening and restoring traditional knowledge, and practices, to all community members; protecting, restoring and strengthening kinship systems; and helping families connect with resources to mitigate the ongoing impacts of intergenerational and historical trauma. 

This program aligns with the Diocesan commitment to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action for ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous people within and beyond the Diocese. It provides direct, tangible, multi-generational redress for the harms done by our church’s role in running Residential Schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action states: "We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for: Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects (61:i).” Lori works in close collaboration with other Indigenous birth workers who are part of the grassroots collective Kihew awasis wakamik (also known as Indigenous Birth of Alberta). Kihew Awasis Wakamik (KAW) is a community of Indigenous birth workers, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, aunties, Kohkums, and midwives who share a common vision of healing their people, specifically by improving access to culturally safe and inclusive maternity care for families. They work towards this vision by centering Indigenous resilience and sovereignty (otipaymisowin or self-determination) and by awakening and reclaiming Indigenous traditions and teachings on reproductive health, kinship and end of life care. KAW believes that the healing, health, and wellbeing of Indigenous people must centre on children, and begins with supporting the sacredness of the reproductive journey and birth.